Buyers able to tap into Calumet's fine record with fillies at Fasig
The lowdown on a famous stud's yearling draft a Saratoga
Eight years ago, prior to the public revelation of his purchase of the famed Calumet Farm in Kentucky, American billionaire Brad Kelley sold his first horse at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale.
The rest, as they say, is history - and it is still unfolding.
That yearling, a filly by Dynaformer knocked down to Anthony Stroud for $200,000 in 2009, turned out to be Blue Bunting, winner of the 1,000 Guineas, Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks in the royal blue of Godolphin.
“I think Mr Kelley was happy with [the price] at the time, but maybe afterwards, I’m not so sure how happy he was not to have her,” recalled John Stuart, who consigned Blue Bunting for Kelley through his Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services.
Stuart pointed to the stall where Blue Bunting had been stabled on a shady stretch of the Fasig-Tipton sale grounds and related that four years after her sale, Kelley sent him another Dynaformer filly to sell at Saratoga.
That yearling was from the Phipps family of Grade 1 winners Dancing Spree, Fantastic Find, Finder’s Fee and Furlough, and she turned out to be the 2013 Saratoga sale-topper when acquired by Goncalo Torrealba’s Three Chimneys Farm for $1,225,000. Racing as Lady Zuzu, she became multiple Graded stakes-placed prior to her sale last November, while in foal to War Front, to Alain and Gerard Wertheimer for $2.35 million.
Kelley will be represented at Saratoga again this year with three well-bred fillies spread among three consignors, including Bluegrass. Known as reclusive and media shy, he is not expected to attend the sale, and Calumet manager Eddie Kane said his boss did not want him to comment on the fillies or the farm’s overall strategy for commercial markets or its extensive racing stable.
Yet it is difficult to ignore the fillies in the catalogue based on their pedigrees, and it would not be surprising if they turn out to be Calumet’s next wave of significant Saratoga sale graduates.
Hip 65 has a pedigree that would be noteworthy anywhere in the world. She is by War Front out of Grade 3 winner Starstruck, by Galileo, and her second dam is Irish highweight Agnetha, a half-sister to German champion sprinter and three-time leading sire Areion.
“She’s a lovely, balanced filly with a big walk. She’s not huge, but she’s a fairly typical War Front. She’s very classy,” said consignor Pat Costello of Paramount Sales.
Kelley acquired Starstruck, who was bred by the late Mrs CL Weld, through the breeder’s son, trainer Dermot Weld, who has conditioned many of Calumet’s runners in Europe. Joseph O’Brien also trains some horses for Calumet.
Another headline-worthy filly at Saratoga from Calumet is Hip 79, who is by Pioneerof The Nile and out of Tapit’s seven-year-old sister Tap Of The Day. Champions Rubiano and Summer Bird appear in her pedigree on the catalogue page as does millionaire Graded stakes winner Madefromlucky.
“She’s a lovely filly, and she’s going to develop a lot more,” said Tony Lacy of consignor Four Star Sales of the athletic grey yearling. “She has an amazing pedigree and she is what she is supposed to be [in terms of appearance]. She’ll appeal to buyers who are looking for that residual value and she’s a bit of an heirloom, hopefully.”
Calumet has made Tapit bloodlines a priority in its breeding programme in recent years, acquiring many mares by America’s leading sire, including 13 at last year’s Keeneland November sale for a total of $1,327,000.
Meanwhile, Stuart’s Bluegrass will offer the final Calumet filly in the Saratoga sale, Hip 134, a daughter of Ghostzapper and the stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Autobahn Girl. The filly’s second dam is Canadian champion Saoirse.
“I would call her a typical Ghostzapper,” Stuart said of the well-balanced chestnut. “She’s a very nice filly.”
Stuart added that when Kelley dispatches horses to sales, he sends them to sell and is very realistic about reserve prices.
And while Kelley doesn’t talk publicly about his breeding philosophies, his business goals with Calumet or his decisions as a breeder to sell some of his best fillies, the horses are talking for him, even those who may not have the same pedigree credentials as this year’s Saratoga offerings.
A day before the two-session Saratoga sale was set to being on Monday, Calumet-bred two-year-old gelding Admiralty Pier - by English Channel and a $100,000 yearling at last year’s Saratoga sale - won a maiden race in his debut at Woodbine in Canada.
On the same day, another Calumet-bred, the juvenile Orb colt named Earth who was sold for $190,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale, gained black type when third in the Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park while making his second start.
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